I wanted to write something cheery, about how good I am doing. I really am doing well. I am going to a friend’s for Christmas, and while i am not religious and they are, they respect this and its about communing and being together, unlike most of the other invites I have had. The things to give people and kitties is in a stack taller than my tree, with some bits on the couch since I just ran out of room. I am still fighting the endless battle of finding a caregiver agency that doesn’t remove the caregivers I get along with, because we get along but I am not grasping by a single thread and falling down a cavern of despair and fear. I am still okay.
I wanted to write about the Iraq war being over, and how apathetic I feel about this and the whys. The too little too lateness, the fact that just because we decided oh hey we’re done doesn’t negate the consequences, the disabled veterans who are now going to be struggling. I wanted to. I only have one article’s worth of energy tonight, and the others may happen later but this article demands my attention. You see I just had a serious flash back because I was skimming the news and I ran into my first murdered child holiday story this year. I had managed to dance around them for a lot longer than normal.
I am not certain if the effect on me was so much stronger than normal because I am doing well and my brain could focus, because the snow outside in the second obnoxiously white blizzard has me aching and everything already felt a bit raw, or if it is because I got a package from my mother today and it contained not only presents that she clearly put thought into and that I liked but some Xrays of my neck when it was broken the one time this hit as an adult. Not snapped but cracks in the bones show up. In my gift box. That this is the only abjectly weird thing in there actually impresses me, but with Grandma changing her number to get around the call block, texting daily despite my lack of reply (even telling her to stop fails), or any other confluence of events this link which comes with a serious PTSD warning made my brain go off into the dark spaces.
My mind whirled through every holiday where I expected to die. That means twenty five years of expecting to die. My wedding, with my sister and her lovely poison muffins which were so very nasty no one even pretended interest, every beating, each time my mother just went to bed, each time I was afraid because I just wasn’t ever good enough for these MONSTERS. My family. My serial killer father. My molester older brother who still whines about how I didn’t let him abuse me. My older sister who decided that its my fault she threatened my life, technically kidnapped me and crashed the car. These WONDERFUL (that is sarcasm) people? Each time they threatened me was right there.
The time my father murdered me for Thanksgiving was right there. The reasons I began to question religion. Right there. In the name of holiday statistics, people die. The part that really hit me was, this will be amplified in a year because of all of the people too blatantly stupid to use their critical thinking skills. The world really does end 12-21-2012 because of all of the people who will murder in the name of apocalypse. We see this with every cult, every Harold Camping, and every other failed prediction. Every single one has huge points of logic, like the Mayan calendars not being prophetic, but people still buy in to this garbage. Same as with their gods. There are reasons to question faith always and by refusing to do so, they demean their religious choices.
I am totally okay with people believing in whatever, so long as it isn’t just because they were told this is their option and never considered asking why. I am okay with people believing in the end of the world as long as its not an excuse for murder. Someday the sun is going to explode and incinerate people. In a billion more years. This is a scientific fact. So someday there will be an apocalypse. In that eventuality we can always hope that there will be a single child launched in a space ship to a distant habitable planet with a yellow sun, and he shall rise up to become Superman. Until then, every year, ever holiday, and every fauxpocalypse people get murdered because someone just needed an excuse.
I do not believe in crimes of passion. I do believe in self defense. If someone dies because they tried to hurt me, that’s cool. Means a threat is eliminated. It means that I will also be horrified to feel blood on my hands again. I will question everything in my life. I will cry. I will scream. I will thrash against it. I will also have survived. Too often in these Holiday Murder stories there is a component of pity offered for the murderer. Just as there is in any murder of the disabled or elderly. It is as if by putting Christmas lights on the murderer they become somehow pitiable more so this time of year. That woman murdered her child and her father. There does not need to be a why. She killed herself. Obviously there was some sort of problem. Its not okay to use that problem as an excuse for why she murdered the child.
It isn’t okay either for people to presume that the Autistic person at their holiday gathering who is withdrawing out of a desperate need to escape sensory overload just needs to stop ruining the holiday gathering, because of course a melt down is so much FUN for us Autists. We really want to be in so much agony that all we can do is scream and cry. Every autistic person who melts down, I fear will die. I fear it.
I see the traditional tree, the gleaming ornaments, and I feel fear. The gothmas tree being black and decked out with my own brand of decoration isn’t just because Black Trees are prettiest to me, and silvery black ornaments look cool on them. It is because I wanted decorations that didn’t leave me with vague sensations of fear. So I modified my tree to suit my needs. The need to not wonder in the slightly stuck in PTSD mode by the omnipresent holiday if mommy or daddy is going to love me this year. If I am the only one who hears rape in the song “Baby it’s cold outside”, if I am so evil because I think hitting is bad. I regress I suppose to the small child who was hungry, desperate, my entire childhood was one big act of desperation, and wondering if I am expendable enough and which of the adults in my life, and as I got older my siblings, was going to be the one to kill me.
My mother was the only one who never said “I will kill you” with words. She still said it with her actions. Choosing my step father over me. She loved him more than me, and warehousing me was more convenient than murder. I got lucky. If they’d thought about it and figured out that at that point no one would’ve even noticed if I was missing, I think I would be dead. My mother may not have had the stomach for it but the rapist she married surely did.
In this moment I recognize why I have eschewed the holidays even with friends for the most part. The family traditions my family has end badly. They end in bloodshed, violence and tears. I cannot stop crying as I write this because I know each keystroke is another child somewhere in this world who is living as I did, or dying as I thought I would. My choice to believe in Santa was a conscious one. I always knew he was fictional but I wanted to believe in the goodness that he represented. I wanted to believe that there was someone somewhere who brought pleasant things. I wanted to not spend my holidays afraid for my life, or any other day. That is what the holidays are to so many people, and myself.
The holidays mean family and togetherness. Family and togetherness mean being tied up in a closet, lying awake at night waiting for one of the adults to get mad and demand the ritual beating. I mean literally the ritualized holiday beating. You knew it would come, the question was not a matter of that but if you would survive. Then you had to endure pretending nothing was wrong while making offerings to the parents, and hoping they were good enough. In my case there were offerings to the people around me for a lot longer. This is why I only buy Christmas gifts for people I want to. There is no obligation now, to survival by having managed a nice enough present. I reclaimed gift giving into something of joy.
Yet I cannot reclaim that little girl, who suffered. I cannot give her grandfather back his last moments and make them pain free, horror free. I cannot give voice to every child who is being abused in some way right now. The amount of violence and hatred that spirals up during the holidays, isn’t because of alcohol. That is an excuse that enables domestic and other forms of violence. It is because we all take time off to be together. This means the victims have no out of the house refuge from their abusers, and a smart abuser uses this to their advantage.
There is no excuse for the Family Traditions I have. There is no excuse at all. I look over to my Gothmas lanterns, my tree, and it still makes me happy, its a creative outlet after all. Nonstandard tree means a lot of customization. I look back in time and remember praying I wouldn’t drop the ornaments as we pretended to be a happy family, praying I didn’t bunch them wrong, praying I did the tinsel right. Praying that this year, God wouldn’t tell my father that I was evil. Praying that this year my mother would let me come home and that I would feel like I belonged. Praying that when people showed up to visit, or claimed to, they either would show up and if they did would not act in a way that hurt me. Praying.
I only miss prayer when I have no power to at least reach out to someone and gift them with my understanding, with the knowledge they are not alone in their suffering.
With the article I linked, I cannot overlook the clear premeditation. The gun she obtained without record of obtaining it. The sending her husband away. Did she just love him more or was it less? It was one or the other. The fact she chose the basement, which would’ve muffled the sounds.
This is the holiday season. Readers, if you are feeling depressed, please remember you can always write me. I may not write back immediately but I will try to. you don’t have to be alone. YOu can also find your local crisis line, and anonymously vent.
If you are an autist, advocate for your need for quiet. Even if it means locking yourself in the bathroom for an hour, take the time you NEED to get away from the overload.
If you are alone, volunteer at a homeless shelter. Go help the people who have less than you do, because you can.
If none of that applies, or if all of it does, make a new holiday tradition this year. Do something to either reclaim your holiday from similar circumstance or to share love and joy in new ways. WHile the holidays are arbitrary the need for human companionship, comfort, and to celebrate is not. These are important things and should be done without violence or fear.
You aren’t alone, I am with you and you are with me by the simple act of living. We are alive, and that means you are my new family. Happy Holidays if you celebrate them, and if not, stay warm this winter, enjoy the light displays with their pagan roots and remember the primal need for companionship winter brings out is normal.